Letting go

This was supposed to be a recap of my weekend keeping up with the 30-day minimalist challenge. But life very often has other plans for us.

My maternal grandma is dying – there’s no less blunt way to put it. She’s 93 years old, stubborn as heck, and has decided that it’s time to go. It’s something she’s been wishing for, for some time now, as her mind has slowly started slipping away from her over the past year.

My daughter and I visited her today, to say good bye. There was so much about the short 10 or 15 minutes we were there that surprised me. We’d been warned that she was very sleepy and not making much sense. Yet, when she realized I was there, she said my name very clearly and smiled. She did the same for my daughter. Grandma was a loving woman, but not ever particularly very warm and I was fascinated that in her final moments, she seems so much more connected with us…with everyone.

Looking at her, her body frail and preparing to leave this world, I began to think about how important our flesh is to who we are. For much of my life, I’ve struggled with body image – sometimes viciously. But today, I am grateful for every ounce of my body and especially my fleshier parts.  They are proof that I am alive and living. Death and the process of dying takes this from us, sometimes quickly. Sometimes naturally over years as we age. I am thankful for this body of mine today, that carries my grandma’s DNA.

Somehow she knew it was time to go. Weeks ago she started talking about it, earnestly. Then about a week ago she became sick with a cold, stopped eating and drinking, and announced that she would be gone soon. This has given the family comfort – we know it’s what she wants. She’s been so uncomfortable in her own skin for such a long time that this really feels as though her suffering is coming to an end.

I have been terrified of death. About ten years ago I found a lump on my thyroid that my doctors monitor every year or so. And every year or so, my mortality slaps me in the face and I lose my shit. Now that I have kids and so much to live for, the thought of being sick and dying, and losing my kids, can bring me to my knees any time anywhere. And let me tell you, having one lump in your body (even if it’s benign) leaves you worrying about every other lump that could be hiding in you somewhere. Like a bomb.

But seeing how peaceful my grandma was, and is, as she lets go of her own mortality – and willingly doing so – is amazing. Even beautiful. So this woman who I’ve struggled to feel close to throughout my life has given me this gift in her final days: the wisdom that there is peace in death.

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